Today is National Longevity Day – and with our purpose here at goPhysio being……
Helping local people live a healthy, active, positive life pain and injury free
…….we couldn’t let the day pass us by without acknowledgement!
The message of the day is to get more people thinking about their health and living a longer and happier life. The day acts as a reminder for you to look after your body and think about how your lifestyle and choices impact now can affect your body in later life.
As a Physiotherapy, Health & Wellbeing Clinic, we play a fundamental part in helping people live a long and happy life. How?
By helping people overcome their injuries, we help keep people physically active, doing the sports and activities they love to do.
We ease the worry and stress surrounding an injury, when people often think there’s no way out, we guide them through the injury maze, providing support and relieving the fear and uncertainty. We help you do something positive about your injury.
We relieve people’s pain, helping them feel better and relieving the anxiety and distress that pain often brings with it.
We encourage people to be physically active, providing fully supported, specialist exercise based sessions, that are accessible to people who may not think exercise is possible. This includes our Clinical Pilates, Active Backs and Positive Steps classes.
Being physically active is a crucial part of living a long, healthy, life – so, if you need help, we’re here for you.
I’ve just recently read a great book, titled Why We Sleep, by the neuroscientist, Matthew Waker.
I wanted to share a summary of the relevant sections, which I thought would be enlightening and useful for you keen, active, health conscious runners. If it sparks your interest, I would thoroughly recommend getting hold of a copy to read it in full. It really is fascinating!
Walker explains that:
“Sleep is one of the most important aspects of life, health and longevity and yet it is increasingly neglected in 21st century society”
For the active runner, adequate sleep is crucial to help in learning new motor skills, improving athletic performance and mitigating injury risk!
In the book, Walker explains that the term ‘muscle memory’ is a misnomer, muscles have no such memory, and that in fact ‘muscle memory’ is really ‘brain memory’. As humans, we learn new motor skills and movement routines through practice. For a runner it could be working on running technique, training or strengthening muscles in the gym, which can help us better execute a skilled memory routine (running). But the routine itself – the memory programme resides firmly and exclusively within the brain.
Research over the past 20 years has unequivocally demonstrated that after practicing any motor skill, your brain will continue to improve skill memories in the absence of further practice after a full night sleep. Walker concludes that in fact
“Practice does not make perfect, it is practice followed by a nights sleep that leads to perfection”
Sleep helps the brain automate the movement routines – helping them become second nature and effortless – precisely the goal of many sports coaches when perfecting the skills of their athletes.
The 100-metre sprinter superstar Usain Bolt has, on many occasions taken naps in the hours before breaking the world record and before Olympic finals in which he won gold. The author’s studies support this wisdom: day time naps that contain sufficient numbers of sleep spindles also offer significant motor skill memory improvement, together with a restoring benefit on perceived energy and reduced muscle fatigue.
“Sleep is one of the most sophisticated, potent and powerful – not to mention legal – performance enhancer’s everyone should be using fully”
The book’s findings are backed up with more than 750 scientific studies that have investigated the relationship between sleep and human performance. Anything less than 8 hours of sleep a night and especially less than 6 hours a night and the following can be experienced:
Time to physical exhaustion drops by 10 to 30%
Aerobic output is significantly reduced
Similar impairments are observed in power output, measured by limb extension force & vertical jump height
Decrease in peak and sustained muscle strength.
Marked impairments in cardio-vascular, metabolic and respiratory capabilities linked to a decrease in the amount of air the lungs can expire
The ability of the body to cool itself during physical exertion through sweating, a critical part of peak performance, is impaired
There is also a significant increase in the risk of injury with a lack of sleep.
“There is no better insurance policy to mitigate the risk of injury than sleep!”
Described in a research study of competitive young athlete’s in 2014, Walker explains that a chronic lack of sleep across a season predicted a massively higher risk of injury, as illustrated on the graph below.
Sleep after sporting performance is just as crucial for recovery. The book states that
“Post performance sleep accelerates physical recovery from common inflammation, stimulates muscle repair, and helps restock cellular energy in the form of glucose and glycogen”
What does all this mean for the local fun runner?
Regardless of running ability, sleep is equally important for anyone who is physically active. Until recently the experts thought that adequate sleep, good nutrition and exercise were the 3 fundamentals on which to live a healthy life.
However, through a large body of research over the last 20 years, Walker has highlighted that adequate sleep is the foundation on which being healthy and exercising effectively is built upon.
In other words….without adequate sleep you will not gain the full potential benefits of a healthy diet and regular exercise. So, you should be aiming for between 7-8 hours of sleep each night, especially in the midst of a running training programme, to allow your body to recover and achieve the full benefits of training.
For further information, please read Why We Sleep, by Mathew Walker
With the UK recently being branded as the most obese country in the EU it’s clear that it’s time to start making some changes. Nearly 65% of the UK’s population are overweight and almost a quarter are classified as obese.
Obesity is responsible for about one in every ten deaths in Britain and costs the NHS £5.1 billion a year. It vastly increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which is the leading cause of blindness in people of working age and leads to more than 100 amputations a week.
But how do we change it? More fad diets and ‘the best’ new exercise regimes pop up on social media every day. But what do we really need to do to get the weight off and keep it off?
Well the short answer is that we need to expend more calories through exercise than we put in through eating in order to lose weight. But not all foods are equal; some high calorie foods such as avocados and nuts, which are banned on many diets, actually contain high quantities of important vitamins and minerals which are an essential part of our diet and can even help to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Meanwhile many low-calorie foods and drinks may be high in sugar instead.
The Government recommends that all healthy individuals over the age of five years eat a healthy, balanced diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables and starchy foods.
The Eatwell Plate is a pictorial representation of the recommended balance of the different food groups in the diet. It aims to encourage people to choose the right balance and variety of foods to help them obtain the wide range of nutrients they need to stay healthy.
A healthy, balanced diet should:
include plenty of fruit and vegetables – aim for at least 5 portions a day of a variety of different types
include meals based on starchy foods, such as bread, pasta, rice and potatoes (including high-fibre varieties where possible)
include moderate amounts of milk and dairy products – choosing low-fat options where possible
include moderate amounts of foods that are good sources of protein – such as meat, fish, eggs, beans and lentils
be low in foods that are high in fat, especially saturated fat, high in sugar and high in salt (typically processed foods)
Exercise to lose weight needs to be a combination of cardiovascular and resistance training to be most effective. Other than that, there’s not really a right or wrong here – what exercise you chose will depend on what you enjoy and any other injuries or health problems you might have. If you’re not sure it’s always best to consult your GP or physio first. Picking an exercise that you enjoy means you are much more likely to keep it up in the long term. By joining a class or inviting a friend to join in with you, exercise becomes more of a social activity than a chore and so you’re much more likely to stick at it. Aim for 5 x 30minute sessions every week, this can be anything that gets the heart rate up – from gardening and hoovering to a gym session, bike ride or swim. If you’re interested in our group exercise classes we currently offer pilates, active backs and positive steps, as well as individualised rehab plans with one of our sports therapists.
Wherever you start, start with small changes to your diet and your exercise routine that are both achievable and sustainable.
Dry January is a public health campaign promoting abstinence from alcohol for the month of January.
After the excesses of the festive season, January brings a chance to turn over a new leaf and detox the body. Take a look at our top 5 benefits of giving up the booze to help keep you on track.
Last year 79% of people that completed Dry January reported that they had saved money. How much you save obviously depends on how much you drink now, but also factor in saved taxi fares and no more late night stops at the kebab shop and its surprising how quickly things add up. Instead of empty wallets and a fuzzy head try putting the money you would have spent on a night out towards something special; that new pair of shoes, trying a new activity or even putting it towards a holiday suddenly now seems much more valuable than a hangover. Check out how much money and how many calories you could save using this handy impact calculator from Alcohol Concern.
Improve your energy levels
Whilst alcohol is a sedative this doesn’t necessarily mean it will help you sleep. In fact many people find the quality of their sleep is much poorer after drinking. This is because alcohol increases the levels of the stress hormone adrenaline in our body which quickens our heart rate and stimulates our body into alertness. If you add fizzy drinks as your mixers these often contain high levels of sugar and caffeine, making the problem worse. Last year 62% of people reported that their sleep and energy levels had both improved by quitting alcohol. Try swapping the alcohol for water, soda or orange juice and wake up fresh for some morning exercise to boost those energy levels further.
Alcoholic drinks tend to be made from sugars and starches making them high in calories without any nutritious benefit. A pint of beer or small glass of wine is equivalent to consuming a large slice of pizza (150-200 calories). Meanwhile our craving for greasy, fatty foods are likely to increase after alcohol due to the release of a protein in our body called Galanin. To make matters worse alcohol also slows our metabolism making it harder to burn fat. So it’s no surprise that 49% of people reported they lost weight during dry January last year.
Improve your mood
Regular drinking lowers the levels of Serotonin (the happy hormone!) in our brain, making us more susceptible to emotional ups and downs. Alcohol has been strongly linked to anxiety, depression and aggressive behaviour; it’s thought that 50% of violent crime can be attributed to alcohol. Giving up alcohol helps restore the delicate balance of chemicals in our brain, keeping us on an even keel so that we can make clear-headed decisions.
Alcohol is linked to more than 60 medical conditions including liver disease, heart disease, some cancers and depression. Not only this but it strongly contributes to obesity (see above), and can weaken our immune system. This means that we are more susceptible to winter colds and our capacity to heal is reduced. From a fitness point of view it alcohol consumption causes dehydration which will affect our muscle’s ability to be able to perform an activity and will also slow our reaction times, having a negative effect on nearly every sport. If we are injured alcohol will slow our recovery time as our body is using more energy to get rid of alcoholic toxins from the body and has less reserves to absorb important nutrients from our food nor to create the hormones and proteins necessary to build new muscle or repaired damaged tissue.
Feeling tempted? Why not give it a go this January!
We’ve got our team together and are sharing our top tips for you this festive season. To help keep you healthy and happy in the build up to Christmas.
Sports Massage Therapist, Cameron, kicks off with a little joke (we’ll let you watch that to find out what it is!!)
Fiona – a Physio by training, Fiona now focuses her time co-ordinating ‘behind the scenes’ at goPhysio. Fiona’s top tip is to try not to be tempted to do all your Christmas shopping online. Getting out into towns or Christmas markets can help build some great activity into your day, you’d be amazed at the number of steps you can clock up. Carrying bags, loading parcels in and out of the car and house are all fantastic strength building activities too!
Physio Hugo, reminds us to think about your core when you’re lifting (especially those supersize bars of Toblerone!). Sometimes over Christmas we have to lift heavy or awkward items that our body isn’t used to doing (Christmas trees or big gifts), so activating those tummy muscles can help support your back a little when doing these sorts of activities.
Sports Therapist, Francesca, advises us to stay hydrated (with water!) – something many people overlook. Lot’s of sips throughout the day is the best way. Our team like these bottles from Hydratem8 that remind you to drink plenty and regularly (a great Christmas gift too).
Physio Kim has a great tip, that whilst you’re standing around over the festive period, be it in queues, cooking, washing up, at carol services……..try some balance exercises. Simply standing on one leg is a great way to build up your balance and make use of standing time. You could also do simple heel raises (going up onto you’re tip toes) on both or one leg, to strengthen your calf muscles, or little knee bend squats to work your leg muscles.
Our Clinical Director, Paul, advises you to put yourself first. We can be so busy at this time of year that we overlook our own needs. As Paul says, we get so many panicked phone calls at the last minute with people wanting help with pain or an injury urgently. If you have an ongoing niggle or injury and want to get it sorted before Christmas, then give us a call. Equally, many people find themselves with extra time off over the Christmas period, so this is an excellent opportunity to invest in yourself and see one of our Physio’s, Sports Therapists or Massage Practitioners to see how they might be able to help you.
Physio Roz advises to make sure you don’t skip your sleep! Sleep is so important to health and wellbeing. The festive season often brings with it much socialising and late nights, so if you’ve got a night in, make the most of it and recharge your batteries by getting an early night!
And finally, Sports Therapist Tom recommends that if you’re sitting for extended, lengthy periods of time – be it in the car travelling to see people or lounging on the sofa, look after your posture. You can use a cushion, towel or specialist lumbar roll to provide some extra support in your lower back if you need it. Even better still, try not to stay in one position for too long, change position regularly, get up and move about and get out in the crisp winter air for a walk.
All of us at goPhysio wish you a very happy and healthy Christmas. If you need our help over this time, we’ll be open apart from the bank holidays or you can make a booking online here.
Self Care Week is an annual national awareness week that focuses on establishing support for self care across communities, families and generations.
More needs to be done to support people to better look after their own health. Empowering individuals to self care has many benefits for their short term and long term health and this is important since people are living longer.
Embracing Self Care for Life is about living well and being healthy. Being active, eating healthily and learning when to self treat common ailments are all ways to embrace self care.
Many long term conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) are avoidable. However, numbers are still increasing. It is important to embrace self care, making healthy life choices now in order to look after ourselves in the future.
There are some really simple changes you can make to help avoid getting a long term condition.
Move more! If going to the gym isn’t for you, try walking part of the way to work, taking the stairs or having a dance to your favourite songs! This is something at goPhysio we continually encourage and support – it’s the core of what we do!
Stop smoking! One of the best things you can do for your health is to stop smoking. Ask your local pharmacist about stop smoking services.
Sleep. A good night’s sleep is essential to good physical and mental health so don’t burn the candle at both ends, make sure you get at least 7 hours sleep a night!
Eat well. It is vitally important that we get the nutrients we need and avoid excessive amounts of salt, fat and sugar. Try swapping chocolate and crisps to nuts and fruit for healthy snack options. Ask your pharmacist for advice on managing your weight.
Relax. We have such busy lives that we sometimes forget to take time out to relax, but it is essential for our physical and mental wellbeing. Find time in the day to be still and quieten your mind. Consider mindfulness or yoga as these can be helpful.
During Self Care Week, and always, make time to think about the positive steps you can take to embrace Self Care for Life. Let’s make Self Care a life long habit.
When we see people at goPhysio, a huge part of our input is educating people about their injury and steps and changes they can make so that they are empowered to invest in themselves and have an active part to play in their recovery and future preventing of injury.
It’s Cycle to Work Day on September 13th. The aim is to get as many people to cycle to work as possible. The longer term plan is to get more people cycling to work on a regular basis. Currently, almost 750,000 people cycle to work regularly. By 2021 the target is to get over 1 million people to cycle to work regularly.
There are many benefits to cycling to work. Cycling to work is a great way to burn off calories incorporating some exercise into your daily routine. It helps improve circulation, strengthen muscles and improve aerobic fitness.
It will also save you money on fuel costs and parking. And you will be helping the environment at the same by reducing the production of carbon dioxide.
Why not dust down your bike and get out in the fresh air. Start off your day the best way, on your bike. Cycle to Work Day 2017!
A new report has just been published, that outlines the health benefits of swimming.
Based on significant evidence and research, the report summarises that:
“As one of the most popular modes of physical activity, swimming/aquatic exercise confers significant physical health benefits for both healthy individuals and those with disease. Furthermore, these health benefits extend across the entire life-course – from foetus through to the frail elderly.”
As physiotherapist, we often recommend swimming to our patients. Water is an excellent environment for exercising in, not only as a regular, low impact form of exercise but also if you’re recovering from an injury. The buoyancy of water helps promote freedom of movement, increasing joint mobility and easing pain and stiffness. You don’t have to go to a pool and swim lengths! We often give people exercises to do in the water, that they wouldn’t always be able to do on dry land. It is also a fantastic way of maintaining fitness if you aren’t able to take part in your normal high impact exercise (such as running) due to an injury. Swimming can be a way to maintain cardiovascular fitness and endurance, whilst your injury heals and progress is being made at gradually returning you to your normal exercise.
A recent example of a young patient we’ve had at goPhysio, where swimming has been excellent. An 11 year old keen footballer with Severs (heel pain related to growth), Unable to play or attend football training more than twice a week due to heel pain, this young boy was becoming increasingly frustrated, starting to gain weight and loose cardiovascular fitness. Part of the management of Severs is to modify activity and treatments are limited, with time and normal growth rate being a key part of symptom reduction. So, he was advised to start swimming regularly and his progress has been amazing. He’s felt more positive, been able to maintain and improve fitness and has gradually increased his time on the pitch, without aggravating his pain. Swimming has paid a key part in helping his endurance, strength, muscle flexibility and psychological wellbeing.
The report summarises that for musculoskeletal health “evidence suggests that aquatic exercise has positive effects for a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions, favourably influencing pain, function and, for some, quality of life. The nature of the aquatic environment is ideally suited to individuals with MSK problems, given the reduced compressive joint force secondary to buoyancy.”
Source: The health & wellbeing benefits of swimming. Commissioned by Swim England’s Swimming and Health Commission, chaired by Professor Ian Cumming, Produced June 2017
I think a big part of the problem with the guidelines is that people think doing the recommended 30 minutes of exercise a day is unachievable. That they have to be sweating it in the gym or running marathons and subsequently don’t do anything!
So, it’s great to see Public Health England’s new initiative 10 Steps To An Active You. You may have seen the posters or leaflets cropping up near you!
The message is simple, you don’t have to do an intense workout to get the benefits of exercise, walking briskly counts too. They’ve even launched a free app that takes away the guesswork. It shows how much brisk walking you’re doing and how you can do more. It’s easy to use and helps you set your goals for the day.
Why is walking briskly good for my health?
There is evidence to show that a brisk 10 minute walk each day brings the following health benefits:
Increased physical fitness
Greater ease in performing everyday physical activities
Improved quality of life
Increased physical leanness and healthier weight
A regular 10 minute brisk walk can make you feel better in so many ways. It can boost your energy, clear your head and lift your mood, as well as lowering your risk of serious illnesses such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Why brisk walking? Wouldn’t something more intense be better?
Research shows that rather than the number of steps taken or distance walked, it’s the combination of the intensity of the exercise and how long you’re doing it for that leads to the health benefits. That’s why we’re focusing on encouraging people to go for at least one brisk 10 minute walk a day.
More intense exercise can benefit those who are able to make the commitment to this, while brisk walking is for people who find it difficult to find the time to fit exercise into their day.
ESCAPE-pain is an innovative, award-winning rehabilitation programme for people with long standing knee and hip joint pain. This programme is delivered in the NHS in some areas and approved by NICE – the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
This app was developed in conjunction with physiotherapists from the Health Innovation Network in London to bring the ESCAPE-Pain programme to more people.
During 12 sessions, over 6 weeks the app will provide:
Engaging animations giving simple advice and information that help you learn what is good and bad for you, so that you can help yourself cope better with the effects of joint pain.
Short, quality HD videos show you how to perform simple exercises, removing the guesswork of whether you are doing the exercises correctly, and help you become more active.
This is a really well known app, but definitely deserves a mention. It is well known that meditation can help improve your focus, exercise mindful awareness, relieve anxiety and reduce stress.
The aim of Headspace is ‘Meditation made simple’. It provides guided meditations suitable for all levels.
Whether you just want to take some time out for yourself, if you’re suffering with pain and want to try some alternative coping mechanisms, or want to address issues sleeping – meditation can be very powerful.
We use our hand held devices so much nowadays. The full extent on the impact of such heavy device use is still unknown. Besides the obvious neck, shoulder, hand and wrist problems that are developing due to long term device us, there are huge potential social and psychological impacts. (Have a read of this book if you’re interested in finding out more.)
So, do you really know how long you’ve used your device for in a day? What else could you spend that precious time doing? I’m sure the true amount of time spent on devices may shock some people.
Moment is an iOS app that automatically tracks how much you use your iPhone and iPad each day. If you’re using your phone too much, you can set daily limits on yourself and be notified when you go over. You can even force yourself off your device when you’re over your limit.
This is a fantastic app to bring some transparency to device us, particularly great for younger members of the family.
We’ve all heard the media and research suggests that sitting for long periods of time isn’t great for us. If you’re a desk based worker or sit for long periods of time, it’s recommended to stand up and move about regularly and vary your working positions. However, it’s not always easy to do this when you’re engrossed in a task.
Stand Up! is a fun, flexible work break timer app. It’s also great for RSI or work related upper limb sufferers, or anyone that needs to take regular breaks.
This fairly simplistic app gives advice on common muscle, back & joint problems. Although it only provides simple information, it is a great starting point if you’ve suffered an injury or are in pain and looking for some general advice.